Ottawa

Rideau Canal Skateway closed for the season

The Rideau Canal Skateway has officially closed, marking the end of its 50th skating season.

Canal was open for 31 skating days this year

The Rideau Canal Skateway closed for the season on Feb. 26, 2020. (CBC)

The Rideau Canal Skateway officially closed Wednesday, marking the end of its 50th season.

This week's warm weather has damaged the ice surface, and with a major snowfall descending on the region the NCC said its maintenance team can no longer ensure safe conditions.

The NCC said it welcomed more than 381,000 visits to the canal this winter, the second-lowest attendance since it began tracking that figure in 1992-93.

The skateway was open for a total of 31 skating days this season, although not its entire length — the final stretch near the National Arts Centre never opened.

In terms of skating days, that makes this the fifth-shortest season since the NCC began keeping that particular record in 1995-96.

"It's not just sad for Ottawa," said Craig Weir, who works at the skate rental booth at the Rink of Dreams at city hall.

"I've seen people come from England and different countries … just to come and skate on our canal, and it's heartbreaking when I have to tell them, 'You guys can't skate cause it's really sucky this year.'"

According to the senior manager in charge of the skateway, the NCC will continue to analyze how climate change may affect the ice, and will look for ways to make the popular winter attraction more resilient to the increasingly unpredictable weather.

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